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Drug surrender bins will be in operation at the festival again this year. Rolling News
Drug Testing

Drug 'surrender bins' to be in operation again at Electric Picnic, gardaí warn no amnesty given

The HSE screening team found drugs that had never been detected in the state before at the event last year.

GARDAÍ HAVE WARNED that “no amnesty” will be given to those who are in possession of controlled drugs at Electric Picnic this year, despite the HSE announcing that drug ‘surrender bins’ will be in operation at again.

The bins will allow festival-goers to surrender their drugs and receive drug support from members of the HSE, as part of their harm reduction scheme.

In a statement to The Journal gardaí confirmed that no amnesty will be given to those found in possession of drugs and that normal legislation and garda enforcement plans will apply.

The scheme, which was piloted at last year’s music festival, will then conduct analysis in their dedicated ‘back of house’ HSE National Drug Treatment Centre lab, on site, after the drugs are disposed in the bin. 

The HSE hoped last year that provide it with vital information that the service otherwise would not have been able to access in real-time before. There was also growing concern about the emergence of new psychoactive substances.

A spokesperson for An Garda Síochána said the force will once again work closely with the HSE over the course of the weekend to “ensure that the harm reduction initiative can be in operation at the Electric Picnic Festival site only”.

A total of five bins will be placed around the festival’s grounds, which the public can deposit drugs inside of, for analysis.

At last year’s Electric Picnic, the HSE screening team found drugs that had never been detected in the state before, most notably identifying an MDMA pill which had two times the average adult dose.

The ‘Safer Nightlife Programme‘ was activated at both the Life music festival and Body and Soul Festival this summer. Harm reduction teams and drug checking will be provided to analyse drugs on-site again, at this year’s Electric Picnic.

Real-time information of potentially dangerous drugs will be shared around the Festival arena and on the Electric Picnic app.

This year, the HSE’s Safer Nightlife Programme is expanding its service to include tents and outreach teams at three locations. Members of the public can come for information, support and surrender drugs for ‘back of house’ drug checking.

Minister of State for Public Health and the National Drug Strategy Hildegarde Naughton said the programme is “an excellent example of interagency cooperation between the HSE, An Garda Siochana and festival organisers” to reduce the harm from drugs.

The junior minister said she would encourage festival-goers to “be wary of the dangers” of using drugs and “engage with the HSE staff and volunteers for information and support about drug use”.

‘Excellent example’ of drug safety

HSE issued three risk warnings relating to high strength, ketamine, cocaine and MDMA, as well as the HSE identifying three drugs which have never been detected before in Ireland at the other festivals this year.

One of which, Tuci or ‘Pink Cocaine’, was found to have a strong psychoactive substance,  2-Fluoromethamphetamine (2FMA), mixed with ketamine. Other mixes of Tuci included 2FMA and MDMA, cocaine and benzocaine.

Nicki Killeen, the HSE’s emerging drug trends project manager, said that while it is safer not to use drugs at all, the HSE encourages people to support the project as it will assist them to get a better understanding of the Irish drug market.

Killeen and professor Eamon Keenan, the clinical lead for addiction services, both welcomed the return of the programme to the festival this year.

NO FEE0078 HSE drug monitoring at festivals Sinéad McNamara, Senior Biochemist at the HSE's National Drug Treatment Centre Laboratory Services, standing in front of a 'surrender bin'. HSE HSE

Keenan said the HSE are to provide a total of 30 hours of harm reduction support at this year’s festival, along with five drug surrender bins where people can deposit drugs for analysis.

Keenan added: “This programme is an excellent example of a health-led response to drugs whereby the HSE, Gardai and festival organisers collaborate to ensure that a safe space is provided for people who use drugs at events to surrender drugs.”

Killeen warned those who chose to use drugs to cautious and to avail of the services that are being provided by the health service.

She also warned of high potency MDMA pills that the team has found during the last three times the programme has been active. Killeen said the strength of the pills varied from 71mg of MDMA to 246mg of MDMA, from the tests performed.

“This means that you could experience a different reaction each time you take a pill so if people choose to use drugs, they need to consider harm reduction advice,” Killeen said.

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